The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here
Well, before you’re going to read this review, there are two facts you should be aware of. First, ZAO are genuine Hardcore, no Metal here. And second, ZAO originate from the Christian Hardcore scene. So if you are allergic of those two facts, better stop reading to avoid an anaphylactic shock. The biography of this US-based band goes back to 1994 and meanwhile no more founding members are active. Despite the alternating line-up, “The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here” is their tenth full-length release, plus some split-CDs and one DVD. I have read that they used to play dissimilar from the current release during their career, but due to the fact that I never lay emphasis on the Christian Hardcore scene this output is my first encounter with the band and I can not give you any information regarding previous releases. How to describe the music on “The Fear is…”? Just announcing ZAO as ordinary Hardcore appears to be short-sighted from my point of view. The music covers a great variety of feelings. Hate, fear, anger, but also melancholy and despair. Sadly the lyrics are unknown to me, but it is most evident that lyrics and music are forming an unity. Difficult to say, but it seems like the lyrics are as important as the music to the band. You will find slow, melodic parts with clean vocals, parts with furious shouting and screaming and sometimes the whole affair is tipping over into experimental noise, reminding of NEUROSIS or THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. I guess even for Hardcore fans this is no easy-listening at all. What is left to say? If you are an admirer of ZAO you have this releases on your list and all others who dare should take a listen on the band’s homepage www.zaoonline.com.